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Check out Dax and Kristen’s interview with Examiner about Hit and Run:
Kristen Bell: You look like Alcide from True Blood.
Jason Roestel: (so my heart stops here… not because I look in any way like True Blood’s wolf/hunk Joe Manganiello, but because my wife has a severe crush on the guy and literally whimpered audibly every scene he appeared in in Magic Mike..) Thank you. That’s a good compliment, my wife will flip out when she hears that. I am so unprepared for this. I was at the movie last night and then..I am so unprepared for this. I was at the movie screening last night and then..
Kristen Bell: Oh my gosh. Don’t worry about it.
JR: Did you guys sit through the movie with everybody?
Kristen Bell: Did we? Heck no.
JR: So last night at the Q&A you said you wrote this movie?
Kristen Bell: No, Dax wrote it. Dax wrote it and co-directed it, and he wrote it for everybody that was in it. This is our entire social circle basically. I can let him tell you, but basically he co-directed a movie called Brothers Justice which was bought by Showtime, and during the press tour of that movie everyone kept saying: “What’s next?” and he said he wanted to do a car chase movie, and so he said he kind of painted himself into a corner.
Dax Shepard: Everyone kept asking what movie was next and we kept saying we wanted to do a car chase movie, and then all of a sudden we thought: “Well now we have to do a car chase movie cause we’ve said we’re doing one.” Andrew Panay, who produced Wedding Crashers – and I’ve done four movies with I think now, he said: “Weren’t you going to do a car chase movie? I think I have access to some money.” And we said: “Okay.” And he said: “What’s the idea?” And I said: “Give me a couple days and I’ll tell you the idea.” So, it went from a pitch to a finished script in 3 weeks and then we were shooting 4 weeks after that and then we wrapped 6 weeks after that. So, it went from pitch to completing principal photography in probably 13 weeks.
Kristen Bell: Which is almost unheard of to have a movie that quick.
JR: And Dax, I was there last night at the post-Hit & Run Q&A… you knocked ‘em dead. You’re a really funny guy when you’re put on stage. Is that like a defense mechanism because this movie is really personal? It’s like your cars, your driving, your wife..
Dax Shepard: …my writing… there’s nowhere to hide.
JR: Is that just your reaction to all that?
Dax Shepard: Wait, I’m not sure..
JR: I mean, just some people use it.. I’ve used it as just trying to be funny because I’m kind of uncomfortable with putting myself out there too much maybe.
Dax Shepard: No, I come from stage. I did a show every single week and I love being in front of a crowd and having a microphone. So, I really just take to that situation. Now, where does my comedy come from like as a human being? Yeah, when I was a kid I was dyslexic and had to go to special-ed every day and felt stupid about that and got very witty to defend myself. That’s where that comes from, but I’m very peaceful about this movie, more than I’ve ever been a part of. I made the movie I want to see. It’s wonderful people like it. To me it’s not a deal breaker whether they like it or not. I still succeeded in making the movie I wanted to see. So, I don’t feel very exposed even though I should feel exposed. I’m not as worried as I’ve been in the past about its reception.
Kristen Bell: And he doesn’t make jokes as a defense mechanism. He makes jokes because he genuinely enjoys it because when he’s at home and doesn’t have a microphone or a stage or an audience, he’s still making jokes at all times.
Dax Shepard: I guess it’s just how I process everything. No matter what, the second we get new information my very first thought is: “What’s a funny spin for this new piece of information?”
JR: You’re very quick.
Dax Shepard: We were watching TV the other day and they were giving a sendoff to some actress who had been on a TV show for 12 years and I didn’t know who this actress was and they said: “Say goodbye to Marg Helgenberger from CSI.” But I didn’t know who she was, so the second that commercial ended I said: “Meet and say goodbye to Ann Borgenheim!”
Kristen Bell: So, not only mispronounced her name, but also introduced you to her clip and also bid her a farewell, and it had me in stitches for like three minutes.
Dax Shepard: Well, whatever, I just think of what’s the silliest thing someone could have said.
JR: How long have you been racing?
Dax Shepard: Well, I raced BMX bikes as a kid. Then, soon as I got my license I got a Mustang and I drag raced every weekend. And I worked for General Motors and I got to be on a track all the time as a young guy. Then I got into motorcycles and I started taking them to the track. And now I have an off road car that I race in the desert.
JR: Where at?
Dax Shepard: In California.
JR: We used to ride in the Baja for years. Dirt bikes.
Dax Shepard: Oh, really? Ok. I drive primarily at a place called Ocotillo Wells but I raced in Lucerne Valley, just like a terrible, wide open, ugly desert. I would love to do the Baja 1000. I need a lot more support and time off in November, which Paramount doesn’t allow me to have. Nor, do I think they would let me race in the 1000 while we’re shooting.
JR: Baja is kind of dangerous.
Dax Shepard: For a lot of reasons now. Not just the motorsports elements.
JR: Yeah, I was just down there. A buddy of mine got robbed by cops and…it’s dangerous.
Kristen Bell: My goodness!
Dax Shepard: Well, there are cartel bosses who have cars in the Baja 1000. They’re just like anyone else…they have money and they don’t know what to do with it so they’re like blowing it on Baja as well. There is a cartel boss whose son was racing trophy truck class and he had his own helicopter and he crashed while running chase in the helicopter. A cartel boss.
Dax Shepard: Yeah, it’s crazy. Anyway, enough about Baja 1000.
JR: Yeah. What is it about racing? I come from a racing background too, but…
Dax Shepard: Oh, why do I like it? The reason I’m drawn to it is – both the off road racing and the motorcycles on the track – it takes a lot for me to quiet my brain and anything that requires 100% of my attention and focus I find very soothing and that is the closest I get to being content. So if you’re on the motorcycle, on the track you’re not thinking at all about what’s happening next week or tomorrow or anything. You’re literally thinking about the turn you’re setting up and there’s something about that I find very cathartic and meditative.
JR: I think you’re exactly right. Your focus is in the moment – what’s directly in front of you.
Dax Shepard: It brings it all into one single point. Which is why I really, really like directing as well, more than acting. Because if you’re there acting and on set for 14 hours you might physically be working and saying lines for an hour and a half of the 14 hours. But, if you’re there as a director you’re answering questions and solving problems for the whole 14 hours. It requires so much more of your engagement. I like it a lot more.
JR: What is the casting process like – this is one of the few things I thought of last night when I was watching your movie – for casting a room full of naked old people? Do you cast certain body types or is that…?
Dax Shepard: I saw THOUSANDS of old people.
JR: Did you? (laughs)
Dax Shepard: No, no, no. Those were the six that responded.
Kristen Bell: Wouldn’t that have been great if we did a national casting call?
Dax Shepard: Two weeks long, eight hours a day… “NEXT! Send in the next!” No, the producer put out a Craigslist ad and these six seniors responded, and we thought we better book all six of them because surely two won’t show up on the day and we’ll need four. But all six showed up so we were like: “Let’s put ‘em all in this scene. Let’s make it as fun as possible.”
JR: You guys weren’t there last night during the screening but your movie..like I heard two loud gasps during the movie. Anytime you baked your tires… there were audible groans out of the guys in the audience. I’m not kidding. They loved it.
Dax Shepard: That’s great, because I’ve been primarily seeing the movie in California. That’s where we’re testing. And it’s not a car culture. I don’t sit through the screening anymore, I mean we edited the movie in our house so I’ve seen it 6,000 times, I don’t need to ever see it again. But, I’m excited that I’m going to sit in the screening in Detroit because there’s tons of car stuff and such good eye candy if you’re a car guy. All the cars in the movie are really sexy, cool machines and I’m excited to see it with a car loving audience. So, I wish I would have been there last night.
JR: So, who do you think in history put cars on film the best before this?
Dax Shepard: Well, Hal Neiman I think is the king of the car movie. Both just for stunts – the sequence in Hooper before it turns into the rocket car jumping over the river which I don’t care about that part – but the actual driving the Trans Am through the abandoned factory and that smoke stack falling and it just misses that Trans Am by like 10 feet. That’s a crazy stunt. Because he was a stunt man first and a director second, like, there is a realness and authenticity to all his stuff that is so visceral, you know, even if it’s not as outrageous as some of the shit you see today that is computer generated, there is something about his stunts that are the high water mark in my opinion. And then my second favorite is, obviously, Bullet because again, Steve McQueen is driving the car and you can feel it. I don’t know why or how but you can tell he’s driving the car and there is something about it that I wanted to capture in this. Kristen is really in the car. When we’re flying around she’s really in the car and her hair is really blowing out the window. That’s all her and there is something to that I think.
JR: I think directors like George Miller could capture speed but it wasn’t sexy. Like, your movie romanticizes the car again, kind of like Bullet and Hooper.
Dax Shepard: It’s a little car porny, yeah.
JR: And Miller was all about impact and you could almost hear the engines overheating.
Dax Shepard: Yeah, and hopefully I’ll get to do this more and more and we’ll get bigger and bigger budgets and I definitely want to add carnage into what I’ve done in this movie. I look forward to that, breaking more sh*t because that’s very rewarding.
JR: Not yours.
Dax Shepard: But not mine. Exactly.
JR: Did you write this specifically as a love letter to the car…? Or as a love letter to your wife?
Dax Shepard: It’s my two favorite things, I won’t tell you what order they are in, my wife and the Lincoln.
Kristen Bell: I’m fine not being #1 to Lady Lincoln. She’s pretty special.
Dax Shepard: Hopefully we’ll be buried in the Lincoln holding hands. It would be like the perfect end to it all. But, yeah, it’s obviously great writing knowing that you’re going to be doing it with the person you love most in the world, imagining a journey that you’ll take together and knowing that you’re actually gonna take it. It’s really fun knowing that we’re going to be running from gun shots and jumping things together. It’s really cool. I liked it a lot.
JR: I wouldn’t mind if you retold the story you told last night about the van you guys used in this movie that was previously used in Affleck’s The Town. That was pretty awesome.
Dax Shepard: Right. Most of the cars, as I said, in the movie were mine and then we also got General Motors, god bless ‘em, to loan us a bunch of great cars, but we did have to rent a couple of vans for Tom Arnold’s van and one of them happened to be the van that was involved in the car chase sequence in The Town. And, in that sequence they were firing automatic weapons out the window and even with the blanks it was burning tons of holes in the headliner of the van. So, we got it and it was already pretty trashed and we told the rental house that we were probably going to break this thing. So, we shot everything we needed the van for leading up to this van jump, so that when we totaled the van we would have already shot it all out. So, when we did the jump we were fully expecting it to break in half and not run anymore, but Clay Cohen jumped this van 100ft with no special landing, nothing, just launched it into a field and to all of our surprise turned right back out onto the road and drove back to base camp. The thing ran perfectly. Didn’t even break the front fascia. No tacoed fenders, no broken struts. Nothing. The thing works perfectly to this day.
JR: Would you think about using it again?
Dax Shepard: I think I should put it in every movie we make until we finally kill it. But, yeah, what an indestructible vehicle.
Kristen Bell: Let’s just drive it for the summer.
JR: The other thing I was wondering is, it seemed like you were going for kind of a gritty crime comedy, and you were totally – like this is going to be kind of a touchy subject for some people – but your character drops the word fag and there literally was a loud gasp from some woman in the audience. And I’ve been to movies recently that use offensive slang like The Town and The Grey, and as a straight guy from a blue collar background I’m sort of used to the word, but then you drop it in this movie, and then you have to explain why you used it for the next five minutes of the film – was that intentional?
Dax Shepard: Yeah.
JR: So, you wanted to explain that you didn’t want to make the word offensive. But there was a lot in the movie that was offensive.
Dax Shepard: Well, I’m not really concerned whether or not people love that word or hate that word. That doesn’t interest me. I’m more interested in how do people talk. Well, blue collar dudes who grew up racing they say fag for better or for worse and a lot of times they say fag and they don’t really mean anything about homosexuality. That’s not even what they’re talking about. They’re misusing the word to describe lame.
Kristen Bell: And then when they have a conversation with someone who is acutely in tune to language, and how it affects people, and those two people have a conversation about how that word is effectively used, if it should be used at all, it provides a very interesting scene.
JR: Yeah, it did.
Kristen Bell: So that was the whole point. We’ve had that conversation amongst us, amongst our friends. Is that word ok? Should you take the power away from the word? Or is this a word that marginalizes and offends an entire group of people. That is an interesting topic. Rather than getting in the car and going: “What kind of food do you want? I love French fries. Let’s pull over.” I mean, he didn’t set out to write a boring movie. He set out to write a movie that hooked you.
Dax Shepard: What the movie is exploring is you have two people from drastically different backgrounds who are trying to make a shared life work. That’s the whole point of the movie. You have a woman who teaches non-violent conflict resolution and you have a guy who is a f***ing criminal, so he says fag and she doesn’t say fag. That’s fertile ground for a story, two people from different backgrounds trying to come together and compromise. That’s part of it. People talk differently. You can say some things some places you can’t say in other places. But me as a film maker, no words are ever going to be off limits in something I write. As long as people use the words, I’m going to report that.
JR: I think you were the first to address the talking about it. Like, literally I come from a construction background so I know how men talk. And then I do this movie stuff too, and I have to switch gears…
Dax Shepard: YES!
JR: It’s how men communicate. It doesn’t make them animals.
Dax Shepard: It’s more complicated. It’s not black or white. And not everyone who says fag is a homophobe. Sorry, that’s just not the case.
Kristen Bell: And that’s the point of why he wrote it, because it’s very easy on paper to say: “Oh, you shouldn’t say something offensive.” But the reality of the conversation you guys are having, it doesn’t seem like either of you are homophobic and there have been situations you’ve been in, and the word has been said, and you haven’t taken offense to it.
Dax Shepard: I’m a real lousy homophobe because half of our friends are gay. I’ve surrounded myself with gay people.
JR: It struck me that, like, Tarantino and Scorsese, they never care. Their characters are just horrible, and they say terrible things to each other, and maybe that’s why we identify with them more so than we do with two-dimensional characters…
Dax Shepard: Oh my god, you should read the script of Django Unchained. N-word, N-word, N-word, N-word, N-word… to the point where you start thinking that this is a word that people are allowed to use.
JR: So, how does he get away with it?
Dax Shepard: I’m telling you, there is a lot of power in being unapologetic. I think when Colin Farrell was openly doing coke and took extasy every day there was no story. He’s like: “Yeah, I f****cking do drugs every day….” And then Tarantino’s like: “Yeah, this is how people talk.. deal with it”. People only attack when they see weakness or when they think that someone is ashamed of it or embarrassed and they can’t wait to stick it to ‘em. I’m not ashamed. I feel real good morally about everything that is in this movie, even when we do the gay runner about being butt-f****ed in jail, and I say Asians are all women in my opinion and black people think all white dudes are women. That whole thing, none of that is about the obvious thing we’re talking about. The joke is here’s a guy who loves another guy, feels responsible that something terrible happened to him and is trying to make light of it the best way he knows how. He’s trying to find a silver lining in a cloud where there is no silver lining. He gets deeper and deeper into this hole trying to get his buddy to feel less bad about what happened. That’s the joke. The joke isn’t saying all white guys are ambiguous sexually or all Asians are, that’s not the joke. The joke is this guy is getting deeper and deeper and deeper into this hole he is digging. Or even the grinder stuff, which we call Pouncer in the movie.
JR: Pouncer was so funny. I think I might have been the only one that was really laughing hard during that and then I was trying to cover up. It was funny.
Dax Shepard: And again, the joke isn’t: “Oh my god this guy is gay and hooks up with dudes isn’t that hilarious?” The joke is there’s a technology now where you can f*** strangers within 5 seconds of meeting them. That’s what’s amazing.
JR: And then you had a cop doing it. Which made it even funnier.
Dax Shepard: So, I think if someone wants to hate on the movie they are going to say all this stuff is racist, and sexist, and homophobic. But, I don’t feel that way. And it won’t bother me if anyone thinks that. I’ll think they’re not very savvy or sophisticated.
JR: I’m kind of from the school where you shouldn’t have to apologize. You explained it as the scene is your girlfriend in the movie, is different, and she is trying to straighten your ass out and get you back on the..
Dax Shepard: And I’m willing, reluctantly, to change for her. I’m like fine, I’ll try to work on that. That’s the last line of that scene. Which is what, you know, we’ve come to tons of happy compromises like that.
Kristen Bell: Sure. We have.
JR: Lawyers, Guns and Money… that’s your next project?
Dax Shepard: Yes.
JR: Is that something you just came up with based on the Warren Zevon song?
Dax Shepard: Yeah, there is this really crazy coincidence, I can’t even believe…it won’t be as exciting to anyone except for myself but I think Kristen witnessed me, I was in the office discovering this. I want to do a movie about my last week as a drug addict in Hawaii, which my last week of being a drug addict was actually in Hawaii. A lot of funny and dangerous things happened in that one week and I thought, I want to tell the comedic version of that because I think a lot of ex-addicts will…they find a lot of humor in what they did because they lived through it. And, I look at it all as very humorous to me now that I’ve lived. So, I wanted to do a movie about that. Then, I love the Warren Zevon song “Lawyers, Guns and Money.” I thought that’s an amazing end road to this story I want to tell and why. So, then I said I wanted to learn how to play this song on the guitar and I’m going to go on youtube and see if I can find a video of him playing it and I can copy the chords. I find a video of him playing in a bar and his setup to the song – which I had no idea about – he said in this video: “I was recording an album and I’ve been working real hard for a year and I decided I needed a vacation so I went down to the island of Kauai in Hawaii and after a week of improbable mischief and danger I decided that I shouldn’t take vacations and I wrote this song about it.” And I was just like: “What the f*** just happened? I went down there as a vacation before starting this movie Zathura, it’s the same exact story! And then come to find out Warren Zevon was sober for years I just thought that was a crazy, uncanny coincidence that what that song is about happened to be the movie I wanted to make.
JR: Are you going to shoot it in Kauai?
Dax Shepard: Yeah. I don’t think we’ll be able to shoot in Kauai because I think the infrastructure only really exists in Oahu. I would love to be in Kauai and I think we’ll go over there for, I wrote a pig hunt scene so I want to film a real pig hunt. So, I think we’ll have to go to another island.
JR: That sounds awesome. I would totally pay to see that movie.
Dax Shepard: Yeah, I’m real excited. It’s going to be even more, you know..
Kristen Bell: Weirder, darker, testosterone infused..
Dax Shepard: More saturated, more violent, more all those things.
Hit & Run opens tomorrow in theaters everywhere in the free world. It’s a candy-coated crime flick with much more smile than bite. The movie’s pure car-porn for road movie fetishists who’ve been forced to dig through the Fast and Furious trash bin for their smack of choice. Dax and Kristen carry most of the film – which flirts with the line between being a legitimate crime caper and a black comedy. Expect a good beer buzz and you’ll be just fine with Hit & Run.
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